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Archaeological sites provide insight on prehistoric societies

A study on the earliest monumental architecture in Europe is paramount for understanding the complexities of early farming community development.
Archaeological sites provide insight on prehistoric societies
Southern Iberia contains impressive prehistoric archaeological sites that have been discovered in recent decades. These ‘ditched enclosures’ are a circular or oval flat area surrounded by ditches or walled enclosures. These are both considered as being the earliest evidence of permanently occupied settlements which consisted of farming communities. In recent years, it has been questioned as to whether or not they were actually state societies.

An EU-funded project IBERENCLOGIS (Assessing early social complexity in the late prehistory of southern Iberia: Spatial technologies applied to the study of chalcolithic walled and ditched enclosures) investigated this. Main areas of focus were studying how southern Iberian ditched enclosures differ from contemporary walled enclosures and how they relate to prehistoric enclosure sites in other regions of Europe. With the use of spatial approaches and Geographical Information Systems (GIS), archaeological sites, particularly the walled and ditched enclosures were analysed. Spatial technologies looked for statistical regularities and patterns pinpointing commonalities or differences. Through this the social progress related to the construction of these structures can also be better understood.

Many sites and regions were used in the study as were various training and outreach activities including training on GIS and spatial analysis and an online portal for the general public to use. Analysis involved topographical location, landscape, proximity to water resources and others variables. Two levels of comparisons were carried out. One involved assessing the degree of regional variability between Southern Iberian ditched enclosures with British causewayed enclosures. The other contrasted ditched enclosures in the Guadiana with those of the Copper Age in the same region.

According to results, differences between ditched enclosures in the Iberian and British study were minimal especially as regards to landscape. In contrast, differences between ditched and walled enclosures in the Guadiana basin were much more prominent.

IBERENCLOGIS has published several academic papers in journals as well as presentations at international conferences and a European workshop. The results of the study can be helpful in understanding the social complexities of Western Europe’s beginnings.

Related information


Iberia, prehistoric archaeological sites, ditched enclosures, walled enclosures, Geographical Information Systems (GIS), Guadiana, Copper Age
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